Actor Spotlight: The Top 10 Johnny Depp Movies of All Time

johnny depp

Top 10 Johnny Depp Movies

To start a new feature here at Movie Melt, we will be running an actor spotlight list once a week or so, where we will highlight the top 10 movies to date by a particular actor or actress.  This week, we’d like to focus on Mr Johnny Depp, who has established himself as one of the biggest names in Hollywood, with the ability to play any role in any type of film.  His most recent example is his turn as the Native American, Tonto in Disney’s adaptation of the Lone Ranger.

Depp has been around for a long time though and is more of a veteran actor than people may even realize.  He made his acting debut in a certain classic horror slasher film back in the 80’s.  That makes for a good trivia question!

What horror classic did Johnny Depp make his movie debut in? (See the answer at the end of this list!)

With that question stewing in your heads, take a look at Movie Melt’s list of the Top 10 Johnny Depp movies of all time, in reverse order!

10. Sleepy Hollow (1999)

A favorite Halloween movie of mine personally, and a cult favorite among many, Sleep Hollow has Depp taking on the classic role of unlikely hero Ichabod Crane who arrives in town to solve a mystery that seems to involve the ghostly headless horseman.  One of many Tim Burton, Johnny Depp films on this list, it may be a little light hearted at times, but it has some scares and it just downright entertaining.  Depp is great.

9. Public Enemies (2009)

While Michael Mann’s attempt at the legendary tale of famous bank robber John Dillinger’s exploits was considered a bit of a disappointment, it was certainly still a pretty darn good movie, and Depp is fantastic as Dillinger.  He manages to be the bad guy, but also portray that charm and make the audience root for him, in the way that they say the real life gangster did.

8. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

One of Depp’s softer efforts, when he was much younger, this drama/romance has him playing a young man who must deal with family issues, including a mentally challenges younger brother played by Leonardo DiCaprio.  Depp shows something we aren’t all that used to here, but proves his skills as an  actor were present at a young age.

7. Dead Man (1995)

A very strange, but wonderful and dark little movie, this one is less known that most but just as good.  The film is a surrealist type western, where Depp plays a man that gets himself into some bother and finds himself extremely close to death.  His journey towards the afterlife is strange and surreal, and paves the way for much of the type of work we are used to seeing from him now.

6. Finding Neverland (2004)

Another lesser known Depp film, this gem has him playing James Barrie, the man who actually wrote the original Peter Pan.  The film is quite normal by Depp standards, but very strong in performances and story, revealing the inspiration behind the classic children’s tale.

5. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

Another Tim Burton special, this dark and twisted musical number stars Depp as a man who was wrongly imprisoned, and finds out that his family were murdered while he was away.  He takes his revenge by opening a barber shop, inside which he slits the throats of every man he tends to.  A ridiculous disgusting but wildly entertaining film, this is classic Depp and Burton.

4. Edward Scissorhands (1990)

An all time classic, and yet another Tim Burton film here, we see Depp playing Edward, a creation with temporary scissorhands, built by an inventor.  The inventor dies before he is able to give Edward real hands though and this of course leads to a number of difficulties.  This is one of those bizarre films that on paper sounds quite silly but on the screen it just works.  Depp is amazing.

3. Donnie Brasco (1997)

Based on a true story, this film stars Depp as a young cop that goes undercover with an aging mobster played by Al Pacino.  The film has Depp flexing his acting muscles as a man who is getting in too deep, and beginning to care for his mob life and his mob mentor.  A fantastic movie, that is full of tense moments and drama, Donnie Brasco is one of Depp’s best performances.

2. Ed Wood (1994)

Again, Tim Burton brings in Depp to create one of the weirdest films I’ve ever actually seen.  Ed Wood was a notoriously bad movie director, who had huge dreams but just could not find success.  He was a truly bizarre person and who else to play such a character but Johnny Depp.  He really nails it, and brings the director’s love of movies to life.

1. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Of course, this may be an unpopular choice but quite frankly I don’t care.  It is the commercial, big budget film, but it was also the one that really put Depp on the radar of this generation and it was also damn good.  Johnny was up for all sorts of awards and rightfully so, for his hilarious and fun portrayal of captain Jack Sparrow.  His genius spawned numerous sequels and another one is on the way.


And the answer to the trivia question? A Nightmare on Elm Street!


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  1. You talk about strange movies. One of the goofiest movies I used to watch over and over as a kid with Depp was Cry Baby looking back, I can’t understand why I did it.

    I was not a fan of Sweeny Todd, and think Blow and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory should have made it. And Nolan thinks Rango was also snubbed.

    • I love strange movies.

      I think that Blow probably should have made it, looking back…but I’m a purist so Charlie has no place on this list.

      HAHA! tell Nolan I apologize – I didn’t realize he was available for consulting and I will tap him as a resource in the future. I actually think he’s probably right….it was a great film.

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